New University campus in Canada Water?

9 March 2013 at 11:31 | Posted in Docklands present, Maps and plans, Photos | 5 Comments
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At the moment, the University of East London (UEL) is the only Docklands-based university, although Ravensbourne College also recently moved from Bromley to the Greenwich Peninsula.

Now, however the prestigious Kings College London is eyeing a new campus opportunity near Canada Water. They have taken an option on the former Mulberry Business Park, and last week displayed their plans for 750 student rooms along with a new office and postgraduate accommodation, affordable housing, and some ancillary uses such as cafes and possibly some small retail units.

At the exhibition I attended, there was a good deal of support from local people, myself among them. It should bring hundreds of people through the area during the day, and with no car parking, the impact on traffic will be minimal.

What’s even more interesting is that while this is a standalone proposal which they are seeking to progress in time for the September 2016 student intake, KCL are also looking at what opportunities the relocation of Harmsworth printworks may bring. KCL don’t own the print site, but are drawing up a masterplan which includes using part of that site to not only extend the student and staff accommodation, but to also potentially bring teaching and leisure uses to the site, creating a Canada Water campus. These are very exciting plans, and I think would bring some very welcome activity to an area which can be very quiet by day when everyone’s gone off to work.

There is a lot of detail currently available on KCL’s website here, but a few photos from the exhibition below give an impression of their ambition. They are hoping to submit a planning application to Southwark for the Mulberry site in Spring 2013.

KCL's Mulberry site

KCL’s Mulberry site


Model of proposed student block

Model of masterplan for Canada Water

KCL's campus vision

KCL’s campus vision

Building the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road

23 April 2012 at 20:00 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Maps and plans | 1 Comment
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The Blackwall Tunnel may be the bane of many east and south east London residents’ journeys, but imagine trying to get around the area by car without it. It’s actually been there for much longer than you may imagine, the first (now northbound) tunnel opening way back in 1897, with the second (now southbound) tunnel following in 1967. But for many years, it was a pretty local crossing, accessed by narrow approach roads and without much of a strategic function.

But when the second tunnel opened, it was part of a much larger plan for a series of urban motorways, or ringways, around London; this link was to form the eastern part of Ringway 1, or the Motorway Box.

The section approaching the Blackwall Tunnel in the south needed to be upgraded to allow the tunnel to play a larger role in the road network, and in 1968 the GLC (Greater London Council) published a leaflet setting out how this would be achieved; essentially, by ploughing an urban motorway through the Greenwich, Charlton and Blackheath borders.

The road was duly built as planned, although you’ll have noticed that the motorway box was never completed; the public tide turned against major road building in the capital in the 1970s, and the motorway box was dropped, leaving a few short sections – including the Blackwall tunnel approaches – as marooned motorways. These sections – then the A102(M) – didn’t even join up with the roads out to the edge of London, with the section through Eltham completed in the mid-80s, and the section through Leyton even later.

The roads ceased to be classed as motorways in 1999/2000, although this message hasn’t entirely got through to the designer of this newish sign I recently spotted on the A2, just before the M25 (picture from Google Streetview), which sports the road’s old A102(M) number.

The leaflet makes an interesting read, going into a surprising amount of detail, and offers a glimpse into the recent past.

Docklands Football: Millwall

11 December 2011 at 18:29 | Posted in Docklands past, Docklands present, Football, Maps and plans, Photos | Leave a comment
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There is a long history of football in the Docklands area, which has spawned some famous football clubs over the years. In this short series I’ll briefly profile the clubs which grew up around Docklands (before in some cases moving away); however this is by definition only a brief overview I’ll provide links to more comprehensive information. I am not focussing on the clubs’ honours and achievements which are well documented elsewhere but on their links to Docklands.

Millwall feature in this first post as they are perhaps the club most closely associated with Docklands; indeed their nickname started out as The Dockers, and the east stand in the current ground is now known as the Dockers Stand.

They were formed, as Millwall Rovers, in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs, in the heart of Docklands, in 1885. It was formed by workers of JT Morton’s, a Scottish firm which employed a number of Scottish workers in their Millwall factory; Millwall’s colours of navy blue and white reflect the Scottish heritage of the club.

In 1899, the ‘Rovers’ in the name was replaced by ‘Athletic’, and Millwall Athletic were founder members of the Southern League. The club played in a number of grounds in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs, starting in Glengall Road (now Tiller Road), with other grounds following in East Ferry Road (one, shown on the left behind the still-standing Lord Nelson pub at the corner of Manchester Road, was then sold and became home to Manchester Grove), but the growing club needed a new ground to call their own, and wanted to locate in a more densely populated area.

In 1910 the club made the move across the River Thames to a new ground, The Den, in Cold Blow Lane, SE14, between New Cross/Deptford and Bermondsey, and a few years later dropped the word ‘Athletic’ from their name. The plan on the left shows the area in 1914, with The Den towards the bottom left (click for larger image). The pitch of the New Den (see below) is outlined in blue towards the top left of the map.

Ten years after moving into The Den, the Football League expanded with a new Third Division, and Millwall moved, with much of the Southern League, into the Football League. Playing in the national leagues, Millwall drew crowds of over 48,000 to The Den, which became known for its intimidating atmosphere and partisan Lions Roar from the crowd. This atmosphere intensified in the 1970s and 1980s, when hooliganism spread through English football, and Millwall gained a reputation which the club has struggled to entirely throw off.

As the 1990s arrived, the Den had changed little over the decades, and in a post-Hillsborough era was in need of complete overhaul, with terraces on three sides and the main stand past its sell-by date.

In 1993 Millwall made the leap from The Den to a new ground a few hundred metres away in Zampa Road, SE16, the New Den (the ‘New’ now having been dropped over time).

I was standing on the north terrace for that last game at the old Den. For all the inadequacies of the facilities, including the open air toilets, it was a ground full of character, and I sincerely miss the terraces of old; I think the game’s administrators have never understood terrace culture, and would love to see safe standing areas return to England’s football grounds.

Regrettably I didn’t have my camera on me for that final game, but I did return over the following months as the old ground gave way to the New Den. The site of the old Den is now a residential development called John Williams Close. Hover for captions and click for larger images.

For more detailed information, visit fan history site Millwall History and of course the usual suspects of the official club site and Wikipedia, and Simon Inglis’s superb football grounds books.

Surrey Docks map, 1984

4 September 2011 at 18:56 | Posted in Docklands past, Maps and plans | Leave a comment
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The map below comes from a 1984 Greater London Council (GLC) book, Docklands History Survey. In it the GLC listed the buildings within the Docklands area worthy of future protection or conservation following the winding-up of the GLC two years later. (Click the map for a larger version.)

The map shows the derelict Surrey Docks in Rotherhithe.

The map is slightly odd in being formed of two separate surveys, with the northern part of the map obviously a year or two ahead of the southern part, with the northern part looking very similar to the 1983 aerial photo.

In both cases, Rotherhithe Street is the principal street around the peninsula, with Salter Road under construction in the newer, northern part of the map.

Several docks remain in whole or in part, with Canada Dock still visible, just before it succumbed to the new Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, and its car park, a few years later.

The Southwark /Lewisham boundary is interesting to me; in this area it still broadly (if not perfectly) followed the traditional parish boundary between Rotherhithe and Deptford, which also made it the boundary of Surrey and Kent before the London County Council came along. This made the southern edge of South Dock part of Lewisham at the time of this map, whereas the boundary was tidied up in 1994 and now runs along the middle of Plough Way, making this area part of Southwark. So if you happen to be bringing up a young cricket fan and live in one of the streets between South Dock and Plough Way, you’ll have to think hard whether they should support Kent (if you subscribe to traditional pre-1994 boundaries) or Surrey!

Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO.
© Crown Copyright. All rights reserved. Published according to Ordnance Survey’s Fair Dealing policy.

Isle of Dogs map, 1984

24 August 2011 at 18:17 | Posted in Docklands past, Maps and plans | Leave a comment
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The map below comes from a 1984 GLC book, Docklands History Survey. In it the GLC listed the buildings within the Docklands area worthy of future protection or conservation following the winding-up of the GLC in two years’ time. (Click the map for a larger version.)

The map shows the derelict West India Docks, with Canary Wharf home only to some old warehouses. The DLR has yet to arrive on the scene, although some of its future alignment can be seen on the map around Westferry, Poplar and Island Gardens.

It’s striking looking at this how separate each side of the Isle of Dogs were from each other, let alone the rest of London; indeed in 1970 a local Councillor famously declared independence, claiming a new Republic in the Isle of Dogs. Needless to say this adventure didn’t last long, but highlighted the need to pay attention to the area following the rapid decline of the area’s industry.

Published according to Ordnance Survey’s Fair Dealing policy.

Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO.
© Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.

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